Two SD Pension Defendants Get Court-Appointed Counsel

April 18, 2006 ( - Two officials charged in the San Diego pension fraud case will have lawyers appointed for them by the court.

US Magistrate Judge Leo Papas ruled that neither Cathy Lexin nor Terri Webster can afford their own lawyers because, in addition to federal charges, they are facing state court charges and are under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (See  Former SD Pension Officials Plead Not Guilty ), the San Diego Union Tribune reported.

The judge did not decide whether the two women would be allowed to keep financial details secret they say prove they are too poor to pay for their own lawyers. Papas said he would rule on that issue this week.

Defense lawyers say the case is so complex that it will take hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, to defend each of the five officials indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges in federal court.

The judge ordered Lexin and Webster to file quarterly affidavits to prove they still need court-appointed lawyers and said they may have to pay for part of their legal bills if they can.

A grand jury indicted former pension fund administrator Lawrence Grissom, the system’s former general counsel Loraine Chapin and longtime firefighters union president Ron Saathoff in addition to Lexin and Webster.

They are accused of depriving city residents and retirees of their right to honest services by conspiring to illegally increase their retirement benefits in exchange for allowing the city to underfund the pension system.